Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This one just got over!!!

Ok. Someone just told me that I have successfully met all the requirements of IIMA, so as to be graduated on their 43rd convocation day. I was easily overjoyed; especially considering the fact that I couldn’t say for sure that I knew what those requirements were. But coming in, I knew that, these days the requirements of anything and everything keep changing all over the place. So, I thought I would do a Shewag - took my eye off the requirements, chilled out and did my own thing. And Boom!!! The year is gone, it’s all over and they want me out of here - with a convocation thrown in and a certificate to boot. Phew!!! Party Time!!!

And then I got robed. No, I am not talking about the trebling of the IIMA fee which has MBA wannabes all over India trembling. What I am talking about is another type of robbing which happens as part of the pre-convocation ritual. See sample attached.

Yes, those blood shot eyes do tell the real story - the hard work, the dedication and the commitment that has gone behind making a picture perfect shot like this. The pitchers that were taken in during the overnight ‘spirit’ual session have also helped in giving that special ‘robbed-in-broad-daylight’ look.

And then there was the procession to LKP (Louis Khan Plaza), in which each of us were to participate with a color coded gown, so that we don’t get lost in the crowd, fail to find our way back to our dear friends and start crying. The actual ceremony was grand. It was uplifting at times, but most of the time we were able to sit our ass down and enjoy the grandeur of the proceedings.

I would close with this picture, given below.

I am mighty proud that I was able to take this picture, without even a camera. Yes, I took it from the Orkut profile of one of my friends. But he doesn’t mind, as he is more than happy with the free publicity that his photo is going to get among all my other friends. (Yeah, I do have a couple of them) He is 9th from the right, on the 23rd row. Keep smiling bro….You look good…It’s friendships like these that will be cherished for years to come….

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Unbalanced score card at full time!!!

Now that the program is over and the dust has settled, it’s time that we took a real hard look at our score card. But sadly, we still don’t have enough information to predict who will finally walk away from here with the PGPX-II gold medal. And even if we knew, I couldn’t tell you because of our air tight grade non-disclosure policy. No kidding…, this is serious stuff….

But at the same time it would be unfair to wind up such an involved program like this without publishing any results of some sort. That is where our own PXCL league has come to my rescue, and I think I will do very well for posterity by publishing our score card there. Personally also it makes me feel mighty proud to publish this score card which talks volumes about the kind of all-round effort that I have put into this program, day-in, night-out.

After some fiercely fought round of battles, spread out over our last academic week here, the results are finally out and it gives me special pleasure to announce… drum rolls please… that IEPE Flashers under the able captaincy of Ganesh have ran away with the honors. The following is a brief round up of the PXCL unbalanced score card:

Best fielder: Ganesh
Best bowler: Nitin (7 wickets)
Best Batsman: Venky (59 runs)

Player of the tournament: Biju (49 runs, 5 wickets)

Runners up: CE Gods (Captain: Neeraj K, Manager: Shewtabh)
Champions: IEPE Flashers (Captain: Ganesh, Manager: Pramod)

Here is a collector’s edition photograph of all the team jerseys lined up for the final presentation ceremony.

Special thanks to Vinay and Venky for organizing such an amazing event at short notice and three cheers to all the energetic participants and the enthusiastic spectators. It was a fitting finale for a grand year that was PGPX-II, full of fun, frolic and entertainment, not to mention the camaraderie.

Here is myself with my hard-fought but cheap trophy for the player-of-the-tournament and my super-man-of-the-year Venky.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Apna Sapna Money Money!!!

Full credit to my dear friend Sumantra for capturing the mood of our class in his academics award winning Photoshop Classic, ApnaSapna MoneyMoney. Fellow actors appearing with the both of us in this cheap flick are (from left to right) Aravind, Vikram, Shwetabh and Sudipto, all accomplished actors in their own right. All this was done to commemorate the launching of the PGPX Cricket league (PCL), our answer to IPL and the likes. With all the recruiters having left the campus after the real bidding process and the multimillion Rupee offers and all that, isn’t it our responsibility to keep the tempo up with biddings of our own? And what better way to make it happen than to start a cricket league as is the fashion these days. After all we have a lot of overexcited and underemployed cricketers like yours truly who wouldn’t mind having some fun of our own. And then there are people like Venky who are always eager to direct one show or the other.

The idea was well received by all and sundry in the class, and the formal activities started with the bidding process that was played out in a marathon session yesterday just after the last scheduled lecture of our course was over. We do have a Business Simulation Game to play over the next week, as a capstone project to codify and crystallize all of our learnings over the past year. But why simulate when we can keep it real, is the fun-damental PGPX outlook and going by that it was hardly surprising that PCL seemed to be the thing on everyone’s mind as we set out to bid for our cricketers with fake money and real enthusiasm.

6 teams had already been formed with a captain and a manager for each, which gave employment opportunities to 12 souls who badly wanted to be a part of all the action but couldn’t have made it on their own because of what we call in MBA parlance “High Entry barriers”. Now suddenly they found themselves in the thick of action, with a purse of 1000 Kuwaiti Dinars, (With the rapidly eroding US green back, we have decided to use the strongest currency in the world to transact all our business with) and more than 40 able and disable bodied cricketers to choose from. And choose they did.

The bidding started with the bowlers and quite contrary to popular belief that bowlers are always underrated and undervalued, right off the auction block their valuations really went through the roof. But this was not surprising to the discerning, because we as corporate bidders know that purchases that save cash outflows are equally if not more important in creating shareholder wealth than the ones that just maximize inflows. See I told you, we will be crystallizing our learnings. Only three bowlers crossed the psychological barrier of 400 KDs with Venky topping it all with an astronomical valuation of 550 KDs, leaving his team, really scrambling for pennies in the later stages of the bidding.

Now when it came to the batsmen, only Srinath got his projected future run flows valued with no discounting whatsoever, the final bid going easily above 400. And then came the real fun scene involving the reverse bidding for all the ‘stars’ who did not find any takers for the initial bid of 100 KDs. And the fact that there were stars, who were picked up even for as less as 5 KDs proves that PGPXians do look towards value for money when they are out scouting for talent. Or that they are just a bunch of real cheapskates. Only time will tell. For the time being though it is all play and no work at PGPX, for that one final burst of excitement.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The dilemma in humor which is not so funny!!!

Humor, when it involves people, almost always ends up hurting, one person or the other, some way or the other. This hurt may be up to varying degrees, starting from a fleeting desire in the subject to get right back, all the way up to a seething feeling of being wronged against, that motivates the subject to keep looking for the next available opportunity to take revenge.

The person creating the humor is also exposed to two direct reactions to his/her creation:
  1. First one, which is positive, which happens when the humor is well received and consists of appreciations from the audience, and sometimes from the subject itself, who truly enjoyed the act of humor and commends the creator on his/her ingenuity and wit. This is the aspect of humor which motivates the humorist to try his trick for one more time, ever more.
  2. Second, which is negative, comes from the subject, who has suffered a loss of face, because of what he/she just went through and that too publicly. This is especially so because, humor creates laughter largely because of an inherent element of exaggeration in it, mostly of the subject’s apparent shortcomings, usually in the areas of intelligence, character, appearance etc., all of which are very near and dear to every human being’s heart.

Most of the time, the above two opposing reactions counterbalance each other, and the group finds itself in a better state of dynamics, than it started out with, mainly because of the explicit value created by humor. But in some cases, especially when there is too much exaggeration and that too at a really personal level or because of the specificities of the emotional make up or mood of the subject, the negative reaction can overwhelm the positive reaction and end up spoiling the group dynamics. And unfortunately, the creator of the humor will not be able to judge beforehand, how each situation will play out because of the inherent complexity of the underlying dynamics.

This gives rise to the ethical dilemma that confronts every humorist, every time something funny pops up in his head, whether it is a funny remark or a hilarious idea about a person whom he/she cares about.

Should he/she attempt to humor the group, by going ahead with his/her creativity in a public forum, at the risk of hurting sentiments and fostering negativity, in the subject and may be the group at large? Or should he/she err on the side of caution and keep his/her thoughts to himself?

In addition to this, there is also a very personal dilemma, which confronts the creator, at a really selfish level. Is there a high probability of backlash from this attempted humor, especially if it bombs, that can boomerang onto the face of the creator itself thereby making him/her loose ground as a ‘good-natured‘ group member? If so, should the creator allow this to suppress his/her motivation itself to be funny?

Now, these are really tough questions to ponder and to me, there are no easy answers.

But there is always the easy way out, of reducing one’s exposure to the downside of humor by attempting to stay anonymous. But, in spite of this being a very tempting option, it almost always ends up creating a suboptimal equilibrium in the group, one that replaces an opportunity for harmless humor and camaraderie with harmful murmur and resentment.

On the other hand, isn’t it better to err on the side of humor and ask for forgiveness, if things don’t pan out as you expected? After all, you have shown the courage and character to own up your creation and there is no better way to start building relationships, than from a failed but genuine attempt at humor.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moral of the IIP story: Playing works, but working………!!!

When I reflect on my International Immersion Project, this will be the one image that will stay with me for a long, long time. After all which other company will take care of their interns so well? Yes, it is true that we are arguably from one of the best business schools in Asia and all. But, providing a ‘limited edition Corvette’ for our local transportation needs. Now that is definitely going overboard. They didn’t have to do this, right? But hey, what the heck? Winners shouldn’t complain, right?

Now you might ask, what about the accommodation? What can I say other than typing up this link which comes up every time I try to access Internet from here?
Life’s been good, my dear friends…

Now last but not the least, it’s high time that I talked a little bit about my actual internship project, and this where it gets even more interesting. One of the first things that we did as part of our project here is to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement); which means that we are not allowed to talk about our project. Period. Nope, not even in a private forum like my Blog which is read only by me and my brother. Yes, this is serious stuff, big fella. Going over and above this, they even made IIMA sign an NDA, to make sure that IIMA doesn’t arm-twist us into divulging our top secret project details. This, let me tell you, is going to be worth its weight in gold, once we reach campus and the debriefing sessions start. The whole of 10 minutes that has been allocated to our team, will be used for reading the NDA out loud, and we will be more than happy to take any questions that anyone might have.

Within all these constraints of the NDA and stuff, I am still tempted to talk about one of the major activities that we undertook as part of our project over here. This happens to be in the area of Finance, our favorite subject, and is tightly interlinked with the intricacies of Forex Market. I like to call this pet project of mine “Converting Dollars to Pounds”. Here is how it works – You get all your stipend in Dollars and then you use that to fund all sorts of eating and drinking and the next thing you know, you have gained Pounds like a Sumo wrestler on a championship diet. Left unattended, this condition can even turn fatal; because you almost run the risk of showing up back in India naked, because the clothes that you were carrying are all one size too small and you can’t even afford new clothes because all of your money, has already been converted into err…pounds.

But all said and done, in a way, I have to admit that this project has prepped me up, to take up senior management responsibilities in my future companies. I already had the grey hair and the red shot eyes, thanks to IIMA rigor. Now that I have the potbelly too, to go with it, I should be all set, once the campus placements start, to really go all out, for positions VP and above. No problems there.

Before I go, I do owe my reader an apology. Sorry bro, that I took you for a ride in that Corvette, but unfortunately that is not for the interns. Rather, it is for some stupid Golf player who wins the local PGA tournament, which is sponsored by our company. And the only way they cared for the interns, was in allowing us to take that picture, before the golf players started trickling in to work on their project. Whoever taught me that working is more rewarding than playing, was definitely kidding with my future. That is the kind of vibes that I am getting, off late and I am not too happy about it either…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PGPX enters Columbia!!!

We went, we immersed and we got reported on. Check this out…

The following are some of the faculty who taught us and interacted with us.

Prof.Wadhwa’s lecture was the most fascinating and he hit one very close to home when he said – “Neurons that fire together, get wired together.” Harsh Thakkar…, we are going global buddy... MCC (Managing and Creating Creativity) and neurophysiology are going mainstream, all across the globe. Ohm……

Me and Sumantra, also did some research on behalf of some of our class mates, on the downside of not taking Advanced MCC in the 5th term, and this is what we came up with – “Morons that wire together get fired together…”. Don’t tell us that we didn’t warn you.

The role-plays in the negotiations class by Elke Weber, as we have come to expect from the PGPX batch, set the stage for some really tough negotiations, involving all sorts of action packed stuff like posturing, walk outs, hard balling tactics like good cop-bad cop etc. And the fact that some of these were practiced even without reading the case, paved the way for some really interesting arguments. Here is a sample – “I am the Vice president of this company. Why should I read the case?”

The marketing sessions by Gita Johar had cases about launching the Mini

and about selecting an advertising campaign for Mountain Dew from a given set of story boards.

Both of these being multimedia cases, the case preparation involved watching advertisements and promotional materials, making it painfully close to watching TV, except that there was no break in-between for watching actual programs. When it came to class discussions, the biggest launch of the season was that of Uma as an ACP (Advertising CP) stalwart. She did so well here that there was even some carry-over effect that spilled into our Federal Reserve visit and Fixed Income classes. The rest of us also pitched in with some ACP (Arbit CP) of our own. All in all, to cut a short case even shorter, we did the Dew, thereby reserving exclusive rights to say – “Been there, done that” whenever we want, for the rest of our PGPX lives.

The “Fixed Income Markets” class by Suresh Sundaresan also went very well, especially considering the fact that most of us had only a ‘passing’ knowledge in finance. But the Prof through his unique pedagogy was able to involve each and every one of us in class discussions, in spite of our ‘sub-prime exposure’ to finance thereby boosting our nominal ‘interests’ and ended up delivering some solid ROI, within the short term ‘duration’ of the class.

The final event of the week was the memento presentation, which was done by yours truly as the representative of the batch, to Joshua Safier the director of Chazen Institute of International Business, who was the sponsor for our program.

Non-academic events also happened at full flow, dominated by the ‘Dhiraj Bakaya Reality tour’, led by Dhiraj himself, that took us through the nook and corners of downtown New York and Wall Street. As part of this tour, we saw the statue of Liberty from the back, Merrill Lynch bull from the front, Ground Zero from the side, New York Stock Exchange from down and Donald Trump and his daughter from front, back and side. Sorry, down would have been too risky. We got so close to Donald to even elicit a ‘You’re fired’, from him, but that was also because we tried to hand over the PGPX brochure to him and he was not in a terribly recruiting mood.

The guys n gals of our batch also showed some strange tendency to run over to the Times square, whenever they got some free ‘Times’, averaging almost close to two visits per day. In fact going around in Circles in Times Square turned out to be our favorite pastime and in hindsight all that added up to the good ‘Times’ that we had in NY. Deepavali was celebrated with candle lit beers, at Dhiraj’s sister’s place which again turned out to be not too far from the Times Square.

We also took some time off, to do some clubbing and partying which involved some surprise… surprise… more eating and drinking. This period of the ‘Big Apple Era’ was signified by the emergence of the Kabab brothers, the tall thin stick figures of PGPX - Ashish and Shafeeq. Their ardent desire to keep eating Middle Eastern cuisine over and over again got so out of control that we had to coin the names, ‘SHISH Kabab’ and ‘Sheeq Habeeb’ for them. Sorry guys, for being ‘Kabab mein Haddi’

And then there was all the salsa dancing that we did, and here the pictures do speak louder than words.

All in all, a pretty fun week that proved beyond any doubt that if you are looking to get internationally immersed, you can’t go wrong with the US. But then again nothing new here, as even Columbus knew this when he set out sail long back, all the while telling others that he is going to India….

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PGPX take aways this far!!!

The good news is that I am leaving day after tomorrow, for the International Immersion segment of my program. But along comes the bad news that I have to vacate my abode for the last 6 months- IMDC #4207 IIMA. Now that leads me to the worst news that I have received in quite a while.

I will have to literally 'take away', this huge mountain of text books and study materials that was bestowed upon me by PGPX. No mean task this, I tell you. Makes the actual studying of this, look like child's play.

Anyways, now the play time is over and it's 'brokeback mountain' time. If what they say: 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger', is true, I hope to be a strong strong man in the very near future. But that again; only if this thing doesn't fall on top of me. Amen...